CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Jan. 23 (PIA) -- National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is optimistic that Central Luzon will sustain its momentum in terms of poverty reduction until 2022.
NEDA Regional Director Leon Dacanay Jr said data from Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) revealed that the region's poverty incidence among population dropped to 6.9 percent in 2018 from a high 10.4 percent in 2015.
"With the poverty reduction of 1.2% points per annum, we already surpassed our Central Luzon Regional Development Plan (CL-RDP) target of bringing down poverty incidence to 8.5% by 2022. And we are very optimistic that we will meet our Sustainable Development Goals target set by PSA at 5.6% by 2030," he said.
Meanwhile, poverty gap or the ratio by which the average income of the poor families falls below the poverty line, as well as the severity of the poverty, have improved in 2018 relative to 2015.
Dacanay attributed these to the improved labor market conditions that generated jobs for the poor and increase income of people that outrate the inflation; as well as expansion and enhancement of social assistance programs in the region.
However, despite these milestones, the director stressed the need to sustain and enhance the strategies already indicated in the CL RDP 2017-2022 to ensure our targets will be achieved.
Among these, he said that efforts to improve regional connectivity in accordance with the spatial development framework must be accelerated to enhance access and increase employment and livelihood opportunities to the Greater Capital Region.
"The government also commits to double down its efforts in pursuing strategic capital projects that will protect the economic assets of Central Luzon, particularly the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge and the Capas-Botolan Road, which will serve as our key growth drivers in the region," Dacanay said.
To reduce vulnerability of the poor, he said there is also a need to effectively support savings mobilization to increase people's resilience to disasters and protect them against unexpected income losses or expenses.
"We must also hasten the implementation of public infrastructure such as the Balog-Balog Dam to ensure the livelihood of farmers and food security in the region. Interventions in agriculture remain a potent tool in poverty reduction," he noted.
Lastly, the official highlighted the importance of accelerating human capital development as key in addressing poverty.
This includes programs on the First 1,000 days which provides holistic approach towards the development of human resources through proper health and nutrition, early education, and social development interventions.
"Furthermore, comprehensive sexuality education and the implementation of the national program on population and family planning should be intensified to effectively reduce teenage pregnancy and in the long term achieve our country's family planning targets," he said.
In closing, he said collective efforts should be always be geared towards the long term vision aiming for a comfortable, secure lives for all so the region must be ambitious in terms of targets.
"We need to sustain the momentum and work even harder for the next three years as we strive to lead more Filipinos out of poverty and fulfill our promise that no one should be left behind," he stressed. (CLJD/MJSC-PIA 3)